Azonto Epistle 30: The State of Chelsea II
Another week has gone by and depending on which side you find yourself, it is either good or bitter. With just 9 matches to go thus having played over 76% of the entire 38 matches, we are indeed at the business end of the league. There have been times when some teams have seriously talked of winning the quadruple but at this business end, having suffered huge blows against the likes of Barcerlona and Wigan a Championship side, the reality is setting in. Now, I believe it won’t come at a surprise when three teams share the domestic honours among themselves. Manchester City already have theirs in the bag, thus the almighty League Cup they won, Arsenal fans will be delighted to win the FA Cup after all, they are the only favourites in it, unless of course they become the Arsenal we know them for, in the last eight seasons with the Specialist, Mr Wenger. We all remember what a certain Birmingham side did to them at Wembley but that will be another matter to discuss. However, with just 9 matches left for Chelsea and 7 points cushion, I don’t remember when any of the table toppers stretched it that far. We know some teams have outstanding matches to clear but they will still have to clear them first. I believe we have all presumed that City will win all their 3 matches in hand which includes a trip to Old Trafford, although by now they must be panicking in their closet having drawn against Norwich, being scared by Sunderland at Wembley and now Wigan showing all the smaller teams how it is done even at the Etihad just as Chelsea did it. So it is not going to be a quadruple for sure, neither do I see any domestic double for any team in the league. However, having bowed out humbly in both the F.A cup and the Capital One Cup, I believe our efforts will never go unrewarded especially beating “the best team on the Planet” twice in the league. Come on, we deserve some natural justice, don’t we?
Assessing Our Chances and Our Strength
When I looked at the league fixtures recently, 2 matches I penciled as key to our title challenge were Fulham, away and Tottenham at home. Traveling to Turkey for a European fixture on Wednesday and playing on a saturday against a relegation embattled local rival is never easy and had it not been the moment of magic from Eden Hazard and the ruthless finishing of Schurrle we could have been in for some treat. With that of Spurs, I chose it, not because I thought they could beat us at Stamford Bridge, that was far from that having only done that 26 years ago, however the issue was with the International break which took several of our key players to far and wide. Spurs could never have beaten us but they could have escaped the sort of humiliation we had lined up for them. It is good they helped us to achieve our plans. We couldn’t have done it alone without their help, Vertonghen, Kyle Walker, Kaboul and Dawson all played their good part in making the day a beautiful one for our fans at the Bridge. At a point I even thought we were having some pass-around training with some Sunday league side. I remember the last time we humiliated Spurs like this was at Wembley and that year ended on such an extraordinarily happy note for us and such a bitter one for them. Let’s hope history repeats itself and Spurs always become Spurs while Chelsea continue to do their thing.
Our next match is against Aston Villa on Saturday and that week will also see some interesting matches being played by or rivals. Whiles Spurs come up against Arsenal at White Hart Lane in battle of the North Londoners, ‘in-form'(for the umpteenth time) Manchester United entertain Liverpool at Old Trafford. Gone are the days when you know Chelsea fans will strongly back Liverpool to get something at Old Trafford, times have changed and the tables have turned. That Manchester United is gone with Sir Alex but we hope for their own pride’s sake, they avoid a defeat and repay us for giving them our little magician. My concern will strongly be on our own match which we must do well to get all the 3 points and avoid any kind of upset which can revive our rivals. I know we are still the little horse who are not the favourites and after ‘pocketing’ the Top 4, our next aim is securing the 3rd spot. We know and love that our manager can say this with 27 points to go. It has been a different story in our past couple of years. Top 4 has been a very difficult task to achieve these days and you can ask Mr Wenger what it means to him. I guess David Moyes would jump in the air to be able to say this at the end of the 38th match, but here we are, in March, but the Top 4 position is “our pocket” according to the mercurial manager, Jose Mourinho, the Happy One.
Before I bring this episode to a close I will mention the contribution of Samuel Eto’o to our team. We know he is a good player even with age issue but little did we know that he could play such a strong part to our season. Demba Ba has not got the playing time he craves for but he has never been found whining or complaining. When he was coming on against Spurs and raised his head up to the sky, all I wished for him was to get a goal and he got us goals. Goals that came from sacrifice and commitment and he deserves every bit of praise. To me he is my Man of the match. He killed the game completely on his own initiative. Lets Keep pushing on!
By Seth Adusei (twitter @sethaadusei)